With just hours left until the Orlando Magic step to the podium, NBA Draft betting is heating up. The biggest news is the red-hot rise of Paolo Banchero, who, as of Wednesday, had surged from a massive +2,700 underdog just a few days ago to have the second-best odds of going first overall at +200.
Are we following the line movement or sticking with Jabari Smith atop our board?
1. Orlando Magic: Jabari Smith, PF, Auburn
Just two weeks ago, Smith was a whopping -450 favorite to go first overall but his odds have slimmed all the way down to as low as -150, with Banchero picking up steam. We have long argued that Banchero's previous betting value (at better than +2,000) was immense, given how close the top three players on the board are to each other.
However, now that he's sitting in the neighborhood of +220, we like the increasing value on Smith, who is the superior player on the defensive end of the floor. While Chet Holmgren is still very much in play as well at similar odds to Banchero, Smith's sturdier frame will make him less of an injury concern and better suited to bang with bigs at the next level.
Now that we can get Smith at an even better price, we're all over the versatile power forward that can defend multiple positions and stretch the floor.
Best Bet: No. 1 pick Jabari Smith (-150 at FanDuel)
2. Oklahoma City Thunder: Chet Holmgren, C, Gonzaga
Two weeks ago, I was bucking almost every online mock by taking Paolo Banchero over Chet Holmgren at No. 2. That said, it's interesting that while Banchero has closed the gap to be selected first overall, he remains well behind Holmgren with his odds to be the No. 2 pick.
The Ringer's Ryen Russillo has reported that Holmgren and his agent Bill Duffy prefer joining the Thunder over the Magic (due to being a better fit), while ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski believes that he may have always been Oklahoma City's preferred target.
Woj: "My sense was that Chet Holmgren was the focus for Sam Presti and Oklahoma City all along."— Brandon Rahbar (@BrandonRahbar) June 22, 2022
Woj says Holmgren is a potential franchise changing player, gives big kudos to SGA and Josh Giddey and mentions that if OKC wants to, they have the assets to move up from #12.
Both reasons which might factor into why the gangly seven-footer is still the odds-on-favorite to end up in OKC. Holmgren is a unicorn and could have the highest ceiling of anyone in the draft. The Thunder covet length and can utilize Holmgren's offensive skillset to create mismatches while using his shot-blocking ability to protect the rim.
Best Bet: No. 2 pick Chet Holmgren (-140 at bet365)
3. Houston Rockets: Paolo Banchero, PF, Duke
The Rockets traded Christian Wood for a late first-round selection, which opens up a spot in their lineup that would be filled perfectly by Banchero. There was plenty of online buzz about Rockets GM Rafael Stone sitting down for dinner with Banchero but the truth is that Houston will be happy to select whichever one of the big three big men falls to it.
In terms of offense, Banchero is arguably a more polished player than both Smith and Holmgren. The Duke product has an NBA-ready body and can score at every level while also acting as a facilitator for his teammates.
4. Sacramento Kings: Jaden Ivey, G, Purdue
This is another spot that is seeing plenty of odds movement, with Jaden Ivey installed as the -375 fave to go here a few days ago but now sitting at +100 after Keegan Murray leapfrogged him into the top spot at -120.
If the Kings make this selection, Murray does make more sense due to their logjam in the backcourt with De'Aaron Fox and Davion Mitchell. That said, there have been several teams reportedly wanting to trade up for Ivey who is the best guard in the draft and is ultra-athletic with an explosive first step and the ability to create his own offense. I think one of those teams offers the Kings an enticing enough package for them to move down.
Best Bet: No. 4 pick Jaden Ivey (+100 at DraftKings)
5. Detroit Pistons: Keegan Murray, F, Iowa
Murray should be an instant upgrade for the Pistons on the wing, especially if they part ways with Jerami Grant. The 6-foot-8 forward was arguably the best college player in the country last season after averaging 23.5 points and 8.7 rebounds per game with the Hawkeyes.
Murray can attack the rim, shoot from 3-point range, and is a plus defender. He might not be able to create for himself at the next level but with Cade Cunningham running the point in Detroit, he won't have to.
Best Bet: No. 5 pick Keegan Murray (+160 at bet365)
6. Indiana Pacers: Bennedict Mathurin, SF, Arizona
The Pacers really need to get better on the wing and Mathurin has fewer question marks than Shaedon Sharpe, along with a better shooting touch than Dyson Daniels.
Mathurin was highly productive with Arizona as a sophomore last year, leading the team with 17.7 ppg. He can run the floor, shoot, and defend. While he'll likely never be a No. 1 scoring option, he has the versatility to fit in anywhere.
7. Portland Trail Blazers: Shaedon Sharpe, F, Kentucky
Sharpe was the consensus No. 1 recruit in the high school class of 2022 but after reclassifying and joining Kentucky midseason, he will essentially go straight from high school to the NBA.
He's a bit of an unknown compared to the other players available at this spot but his size, run-jump ability, and silky-smooth moves give him as high of a ceiling as anyone in this class.
Jake Fischer of Bleacher Report recently reported that Sharpe's stock is falling after underwhelming workouts. We're not buying it. There are plenty of teams, including the Pistons, Pacers, and Blazers, that could use a wing like Sharpe, and his sky-high potential gives him an edge over the other players projected to go in this area.
It also wouldn't be a surprise if another team falls in love with his physical traits and trades up into the Top 7 to select him. That gives plenty of value to this play.
Best Bet: Shaedon Sharpe draft position - Under 7.5 (+100 at bet365)
8. New Orleans Pelicans (via LAL): Dyson Daniels, SG, G League Ignite
Daniels is a long combo-guard who can attack the rim, create for others, rebound, and play tough defense. New Orleans could really use another ball-handler alongside C.J. McCollum, and his defense will be a bonus for a squad that will have plenty of scoring options once Zion slots back into the lineup.
New Orleans Pelicans Chatter while I’m on vacation ????????????????????????????????????— ???? Brandon “Scoop B” Robinson (@ScoopB) June 21, 2022
Shaedon Sharpe and Dyson Daniels are who NOLA really likes.
Early chatter ahead of Thursday’s NBA Draft so far seemingly says Pels could retain pick & not trade it.
We shall see.
9. San Antonio Spurs: Jalen Duren C, Memphis
There are rumors that the Spurs are seeking out a true center with this pick and Duren is the best on the board. Duren has an NBA-ready body with terrific physical traits, including the ability to run the floor and play above the rim.
He doesn't have the shooting or passing ability that teams now covet at every position, but if you want someone to grab rebounds, defend the rim, and score inside, he should be a good one. He also doesn't turn 19 until November, so he's just starting to scratch his vast potential.
Best Bet: Jalen Duren draft position - Under 10.5 (-108 at FanDuel)
10. Washington Wizards: Johnny Davis, SG/SF, Wisconsin
The Wizards simply need more talent across the board and Davis (not Murray) was named the Big Ten player of the year after dropping 19.7 ppg for the Badgers. The 20-year-old isn't ultra-athletic or a 3-point sniper but he's a crafty scorer with an efficient mid-range game, and he gives a solid effort on the defensive end of the floor.
11. New York Knicks: TyTy Washington, PG, Kentucky
The Knicks need a lead guard who can facilitate for others and Washington is the best on the board. Washington can pass, shoot from the perimeter, and defend. He averaged 12.5 points, 3.9 assists, and 1.3 steals per game as a freshman with Kentucky last season.
12. Thunder (via LAC): AJ Griffin, SF, Duke
The Thunder finished dead-last in the NBA in 3-point percentage last season and desperately need an upgrade in that area.
Griffin isn't the most athletic wing and isn't going to create for others or help much on the boards. However, he's an excellent outside shooter that hit 44.7% of his threes as a freshman at Duke and has the size to contribute on defense. He's also just 18 years old, so he has plenty of room to develop.
13. Charlotte Hornets: Jeremy Sochan PF, Baylor
Sochan would be an interesting piece for the Hornets to add. His length and defensive versatility would be a valuable commodity on a Hornets squad that ranked near the bottom of the league in points allowed, and he can also facilitate for his teammates.
He'll also be one of the younger players in this draft, so he's got lots of room to grow.
14. Cleveland Cavaliers: Malaki Branham SG, Ohio State
The Cavs have a pair of twin towers and Darius Garland at point guard, but they need more outside shooting and depth on the wing. Branham addresses both areas. His frame suggests that he can be a plus defender in the pros, and he averaged 13.7 ppg on 50/42/83 shooting splits as a freshman at Ohio State last year.
15. Charlotte Hornets (via NOP): Mark Williams, C, Duke
It's pretty obvious that Charlotte needs an upgrade over Mason Plumlee at center. The 240-pound Williams had a massive standing reach of 9-foot-9 at the combine and was named the ACC Defensive Player of the Year after leading Duke with 7.4 rebounds and 2.8 blocks per game. He's also an efficient scorer inside the paint and is reliable at the charity stripe.
16. Atlanta Hawks: Tari Eason F, LSU
The Hawks tend to draft the best player available and Eason would fit that bill while also providing an instant upgrade defensively. The LSU product is long and athletic and can defend multiple positions while also having the ability to run the floor and finish at the rim.
17. Rockets (via BKN): Ousmane Dieng SF, NZ Breakers
The Rockets have three first-round selections for the second year in a row and can afford to gamble on a high-ceiling prospect like Dieng.
The 18-year-old played in the Australian NBL last season and flashed his vast potential with his defensive versatility, offensive skill set, and playmaking ability. He's far from NBA-ready but has tons of upside, and the Rockets aren't exactly looking to immediately contend.
18. Chicago Bulls: Ochai Agbaji, SG, Kansas
Agbaji was named the Big 12 Player of the Year but at 22 years old, his ceiling isn't as high as the guys we think will go ahead of him. He still projects as a 3-and-D role player at the next level who should be able to contribute early in his career. That will be an important consideration for a playoff-caliber Bulls team that needs help on the wing and hit on another older college star when they drafted Ayo Dosunmu last year.
We've seen older prospects slide in the draft before and being able to take the Over 15.5 at +205 is terrific value.
Best Bet: Ochai Agabji draft position - Over 15.5 (+205 at bet365)
19. Minnesota Timberwolves: Jalen Williams, SG, Santa Clara
Williams (not to be confused with Arkansas big man Jaylin Williams) is one of the draft's fastest risers after wowing teams at the combine and his pro day. The Santa Clara swingman can knock down shots from the perimeter and his absurd 7-foot-2 wingspan should make him a defensive terror.
The Wolves have their dynamic duo in KAT and Anthony Edwards, but they need to round out that lineup with switchable defenders and guys that can help with spacing.
20. Spurs (via TOR): Kendall Brown, SF, Baylor
San Antonio would be an ideal place for Brown to develop his skills. The former five-star recruit has elite athleticism packaged in a 6-foot-8-inch frame. He doesn't have the skills to be a go-to scorer, but he's an unselfish passer that can cut to the rim and defend multiple positions.
Brown's biggest weakness is his jumper but the Spurs coaching staff has been one of the best in the league at helping young players improve their shot.
21. Denver Nuggets: Nikola Jovic, F, KK Mega Basket (Adriatic League)
It might seem lazy sending a Serbian baller with an almost identical name as Nikola Jokic to the Nuggets, but Jovic really makes sense at this spot.
The 6-foot-11 Jovic is a highly-skilled forward that can put the ball on the floor, pass, and shoot. He would be a great fit in Denver's frontcourt down the line and would be given time to learn and develop. It doesn't hurt that he impressed in a private workout with the Nuggets last week.
22. Memphis Grizzlies (via UTA): Kennedy Chandler, PG, Tennessee
The Grizzlies might look to move on from backup point guard Tyus Jones, who has likely played his way on to a big contract with another team. Thankfully, a suitable replacement might fall into their lap in Chandler, who grew up in nearby Cordova.
Chandler has a natural feel for the pick-and-roll and is a terrific athlete with hops and blazing speed. His smaller size is probably his biggest drawback as a prospect, but it didn't stop him from being a pesky defender at Tennessee, where he averaged 2.2 steals per game.
23. Philadelphia 76ers: EJ Liddell, PF, Ohio State
A disappointing playoff finish notwithstanding, the 76ers are still clearly in win-now mode and Liddell has the experience to earn playing time from Day 1. The 6-foot-7, 240-pound power forward is a skilled offensive player that led the Buckeyes with 19.4 ppg on 49/37/77 shooting splits as a junior last year.
He also proved that he's far more athletic than he's been given credit for by posting a standing vertical of 35.5 inches — the highest number of any player at the combine.
24. Milwaukee Bucks: Blake Wesley, SG, Notre Dame
Guys that can create their own shot are always in demand in today's NBA and Wesley is capable of filling up the bucket, even if he struggled with his shooting efficiency as a freshman in South Bend.
25. Spurs (via BOS): Jake LaRavia, F, Wake Forest
The Spurs could opt to part with one of their three first-rounders in order to move up or acquire a veteran player, but if they keep this pick, LaRavia is a good fit.
LaRavia has power forward size with a small forward skillset. He is a versatile, high-IQ player that can help a team in a variety of ways. His stock also took a boost when it was revealed that he was actually 20 years old and not 22 like he had been listed at (funny how just two years can change how prospects are viewed).
26. Mavericks: MarJon Beauchamp, SF, G League Ignite
The Rockets have agreed to send Christian Wood to Dallas for this pick but since that trade can't be officially completed until Thursday it still technically belongs to the Mavs.
The Rockets struck gold when they took Jalen Green from the G League Ignite last year and might be tempted to go back to the well again. Beauchamp averaged 15.1 ppg with the Ignite and with his size and strength, he should be able to defend multiple positions.
The Rockets brought in Beauchamp for a private workout at the beginning of the month and he'll provide energy on both ends of the floor for a young Houston squad.
27. Miami Heat: Jaden Hardy, SG, G League Ignite
The shooting guard lacks polish but can attack the rim and score at every level. Hardy was one of the top recruits in the nation coming out of high school last year and averaged 17.7 ppg with the Ignite.
He has to vastly improve his shot selection and needs to play harder on the defensive end of the floor but has the swagger and scoring ability to outplay his draft position.
28. Golden State Warriors: Jaylin Williams, PF, Arkansas
Williams earned first-team All-SEC and SEC All-Defensive Team honors with Arkansas last season, and he should provide front-court depth for the Warriors. He fits as a high-energy, defensive-minded big man with a developing offensive game.
29. Grizzlies: Caleb Houston, SF, Michigan
The former five-star recruit was once projected as a lottery selection, but his stock dropped after a disappointing freshman year with Michigan. He's still highly talented and has the size and shooting ability to carve out that valued 3-and-D role in the pros.
30. Thunder (via PHX): Dalen Terry G, Arizona
The final pick of the first round is also the third pick currently owned by Oklahoma City. Similar to the Spurs situation, there is no guarantee that the Thunder will hold on to this pick but regardless of who eventually makes this selection, Dalen Terry might be the best player left on the board.